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Middle East matters – Historic first: Iraq prepares for papal visit

In defiance of both the Covid-19 pandemic and security concerns, Pope Francis has confirmed that the first ever papal visit to Iraq is going ahead. The three-day trip, starting on March 5, will see the pope meet ancient Christian communities persecuted during the Islamic State group’s reign of terror. He’ll also be taking part in an interfaith service in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur. We take a closer look.


Meanwhile, Houthi rebels in Yemen step up their offensive on a key northern government stronghold. The Houthis are spying an opportunity in the wake of a US decision to withdraw support from the Saudi-led military campaign in the country.

And we head to Egypt, where the return of foreign tourists can’t come soon enough for a sector buckling under the weight of global travel restrictions. 


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